When the final days of my pregnancy were dwindling down, one thing I worried about often was: “How will I know when I go into labor? Will I know if my water breaks??”
I didn’t know what to expect contractions to feel like, and apparently it’s actually pretty rare for your water to break before you go into labor. Therefore, I spent my fair share of time Googling both “What do contractions feel like?” and “What does it feel like when your water breaks?” and reading countless stories from women who had experienced it all.
It’s true; contrary to what movies and TV may have you believe, labor does not often begin with the water breaking. Only about 1 in 5 women will experience their water breaking before they go into labor. It turns out that I was apparently one of the lucky 20%.
From what I read during all of my time researching the subject, the rupturing of the “bag of waters” (as they called it in our childbirth class) can feel different from woman to woman. Many women reported feeling and some even hearing an audible “POP” before they felt the flood down below. Other women claim to have had a slow, steady leaking without any noticeable gushing.
Here’s how it happened for me.
**This post is probably going to be really TMI, but when I was pregnant and reading stories like this, I wanted to know every little detail… so here you go. Not to mention, once I was in the delivery room, I lost every ounce of shame and modesty I ever had anyway. It happens.**
On the day I went into labor, I woke up around 5 am feeling like I needed to pee. In your third trimester of pregnancy, numerous bathroom trips during the night gets old pretty quickly. So, I stayed in bed willing myself to go back to sleep and trying to convince myself that I didn’t really need to go that badly. Still, something just didn’t feel right down there. It already felt kind of damp and I started thinking, “Now, I know I don’t have to go THAT badly!” I thought maybe the baby had been pressing on my bladder or something.
Embarrassed, I finally got myself out of bed and headed to the bathroom. There was just a small wet spot in my underwear, so I cleaned myself up and put on a dry pair. When I went to flush, I noticed what I’m pretty sure was at least part of the lovely “mucus plug” they tell you to expect. It wasn’t a giant globby thing like some people describe it… Honestly, I can’t even recall clearly what it looked like in order to describe it, I just knew it was out of the ordinary! They say you can lose your mucus plug several weeks before you go into labor, but I was 40 weeks at this point and hadn’t seen any sign of it before this particular morning. I got kind of excited but also nervous at the thought that the baby’s birthday could be right around the corner.
Anyway, once I was clean and dry, I climbed back into bed and immediately felt like I had to pee again and felt that wetness once more. “Are you kidding me???” At this point, as I walked back to the bathroom, a little voice in the back of my mind started to say, “Maybe this is it! This could be your water breaking!”
Sure enough, there was another wet spot in my underwear that I KNOW had just been dry 2 minutes prior. Also this time, I noticed some bleeding. Of course, any sight of blood when you’re pregnant makes you automatically freak out, but I just thought maybe it was from where I had lost my mucus plug.
Luckily, I had received about 3 free samples of women’s urinary incontinence pads and decided to hang onto them in case of this moment. So, this time, once I got cleaned up and changed again, I went ahead and put on one of those pads juuuuuust in case. As soon as I got back to my bedroom not even a minute later, I felt a small gush. “Ok, I did NOT have to pee that time!” I said to myself as I started to panic a little bit. At least… I was pretty sure? I kept thinking back to our childbirth class when the nurse told us that many women had come in to the hospital thinking their water had broken, but they’d really just peed themselves when their babies had pressed on their bladders in a certain way. I stopped to assess myself. It didn’t feel like the baby was pressing on my bladder. It didn’t even feel like I had to pee. Plus, I had lost my mucus plug… Surely, my water had broken!
I called my husband at work to let him know that my water broke and we would need to go to the hospital soon. As I was waiting for him to get home, I felt several more small gushes like the first one. Whaaat? I had always been under the impression that when your water broke, it was a one-and-done kind of deal. Apparently I was wrong! Even when we got to the hospital, it took me a pretty long time to walk from the car to the front doors because I was feeling a gush with each step I took. Let’s just say, I was super thankful for those pads and will definitely have some more on hand next time I’m pregnant!
Now, what does a “gush” feel like? Well, to me, it felt kind of like I was peeing my pants and had no control over it at all. Awesome.
So, it’s true–water breaking can feel different for different women. I didn’t feel or hear the “pop” that some women claim to experience, but I did kind of have both the small trickling at first and then the gushes later on. When I was evaluated the hospital, the nurse also informed me that it’s quite normal for women to experience bleeding at first, like I had.
The important thing to remember is: no matter how it feels when your water breaks, if it breaks at home before you are in labor, be sure to get to the hospital ASAP! Some women like to think they can labor at home for a while before they go in, but that’s not the case if your water has broken. Once your water breaks, you and the baby are at an increased risk of getting an infection and that sucker’s gotta have a birthday within the next 24 hours no matter what! So, yes, even if you just wet yourself, you should still get checked out if you think there’s any chance it could have been your water breaking.
If anyone reading this has experienced your water breaking, how did it happen for you? I’d like to know!